Paris 2024 Olympics – Rugby 7s: “Let go, that’s the key to getting that gold medal that we’re missing,” confides the captain of the Bleues on training at Font-Romeu

Paris 2024 Olympics – Rugby 7s: “Let go, that’s the key to getting that gold medal that we’re missing,” confides the captain of the Bleues on training at Font-Romeu
Paris 2024 Olympics – Rugby 7s: “Let go, that’s the key to getting that gold medal that we’re missing,” confides the captain of the Bleues on training at Font-Romeu

Before flying to Germany for the last Olympic preparation tournament, the French women’s sevens rugby team trained on Catalan soil. At the National Altitude Training Center in Font-Romeu, captain Carla Niesen returned to the milestone that remains to be reached to seek the holy grail in Paris in a little over a month.

What is the objective of this internship in Font-Romeu?

We use altitude to be physically fit. We had already done several tests and we had prepared here before the last World Cup. Before the Games, we put the same process back in place, two or three days of acclimatization to prevent it from taking away from us and then we put a lot more intensity into the training. We also come to do hypoxia work, it’s something we’ve already done because we have a hypoxic chamber in Marcoussis, but it still stings.

You are left with two finals lost during the last two tournaments played and in particular in Madrid, in the world championships, what is missing from this team which is denied victory?

We left Madrid with great frustration because we missed out on our second half in the final. We haven’t passed the milestone, that’s clear, and we discussed it to work on how to approach these finals but also on our group cohesion. We have to take these matches like any other to reduce the pressure. The objective is to succeed in implementing what we do in training during the tournament from A to Z while managing to let go as much as possible. This is the key to getting this gold medal that we are missing.

What emotions do you feel a few weeks before being captain of the French team for your second Olympic Games, this time at home?

Being the captain of this team is a source of pride. I am very happy because we continue to move forward since the silver medal in Tokyo. When we look at where we have come from and everything we have accomplished, we can only be proud of our group. We were able to involve young people in the project and we have made a lot of progress. Personally too and I feel good physically. Now I just want it to benefit the team in Paris.

When you arrived in the French Sevens team, did you already have Paris 2024 in the back of your mind?

After the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, I was no longer involved with the French XV and I switched completely to rugby sevens in the selection. I still have my club in Blagnac where I still play a few matches occasionally but it’s not easy to succeed in combining the two. We often play one or two matches at the start of the season to have time to enjoy our loved ones in between. Initially, I wanted to take everything, whether it was the XV World Cup (it has X matches at the 2018 World Cup) or the Sevens Olympic Games, but then the transition happened naturally. Before the Tokyo Games, Paris was already the objective. When I started in 2016, I told myself that after 2024 I would stop but ultimately I wouldn’t stop because today I don’t want to and because physically I still feel in good shape.

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